Overview

The Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to support excellence in research by attracting world-class researchers and research leaders to key positions in Australia.

The objectives of the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme are to:

  • attract and retain outstanding researchers and research leaders of international reputation
  • support ground-breaking, internationally competitive research
  • provide an excellent research training environment and exemplary mentorship to nurture early-career researchers
  • forge strong links among researchers, the international research community and/or industry
  • expand Australia’s knowledge base and research capability
  • enhance the scale and focus of research in the Science and Research Priorities.

Selection Process

Proposals for projects commencing in 2017 opened on 5 October 2016 and closed on 30 November 2016. Proposals were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines recommendations from the selection process for that round.

The ARC has prepared funding recommendations for submission to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The outcomes were based on advice from an ARC Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) which:

  • assessed proposals and reviewed assessments made by independent readers
  • reviewed candidates’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each proposal relative to the others on the basis of the proposal and the assessors’ reports and candidates’ responses to those assessments
  • assessed and recommended budgets

and, advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff or the members of the ARC SAC
  • sought advice from institutions with respect to issues raised
  • made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible proposals.

The ARC assessment and subsequent reporting process for Australian Laureate Fellowships 2017 was managed in the Research Management System (RMS), and used a total of 17 Selection Advisory Committee members on one multi-discipline panel. A total of 371 independent assessor reports were submitted to the ARC for Australian Laureate Fellowships 2017.

This report reflects the approved recommendations by the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Australian Laureate Fellowships proposals are:

Investigator         (40%)
Project/Program of Research Activit (30%)
Mentoring/Capacity Building (30%)


Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 112 proposals for Australian Laureate Fellowships for funding commencing in 2017, of which none were withdrawn. This is a decrease from the 124 proposals received for Australian Laureate Fellowships for funding commencing in 2016. Of the unsuccessful proposals, one was found not to meet eligibility requirements.

The overall success rate for the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme for funding commencing in 2017 is 15.2%.

Funding Levels and Duration

Australian Laureate Fellowships projects are funded for five years on a full-time basis, subject to sufficient funding being available for the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme, the provisions of the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (the ARC Act), and continued satisfactory progress of the Australian Laureate Fellowships project.

In addition to the Australian Laureate Fellowship salary supplement and salary-related (on-cost) support, the ARC may provide Australian Laureate Fellows with:

  1. additional funding for up to two postdoctoral research associates for five years each and up to two postgraduate researchers for four years each
  2. project funding of up to $300,000 per annum (for up to five years).

Of the 17 approved Australian Laureate Fellows, the average amount of approved funding is $2,766,233 in total over five years. In addition to the total Australian Laureate Fellowship salary support of $13,454,735, a total of $18,981,620 is approved for postdoctoral research associates and postgraduate researchers and a further $14,589,614 for general project funding.

While funding is awarded for Australian Laureate Fellowships proposals for five years, the ARC Act applies limits in relation to the amount and years for which the Minister may approve funding. At the time of award, funding is approved only up to and including the 2019–2020 financial year. Subsequent years and associated funding limits are added by amendment to the Act, following which funding for the additional years may be made available. Accordingly, the term "indicative funding" is used throughout this report to denote the total level of funding which it is proposed to be made available, once all years to which funding proposals relate have been legislated.

It is a requirement of the Funding Rules for schemes under the Discovery Programme (2016 edition) for the Administering Organisation to provide a salary of Level E professorial appointment (or equivalent) to the successful candidate, with the ARC providing the salary supplement of $121,762 per annum plus 30 per cent on-costs.

Table 1. Indicative funds for approved Australian Laureate Fellowships proposals for funding commencing in 2017

Budget item

2017–18

$

2018–19

$

2019–20

$

2020–21

$

2021–22

$

TOTAL

$

Laureate Salary support + on-costs

2,690,947

2,690,947

2,690,947

2,690,947

2,690,947

13,454,735

ARC Postdoctoral Researchers

3,207,204

3,207,204

3,207,204

3,207,204

3,207,204

16,036,020

ARC Postgraduate Researchers

473,400

736,400

736,400

736,400

263,000

2,945,600

Project Funding

3,190,437

2,927,445

2,927,449

2,927,448

2,616,835

14,589,614

TOTAL

9,561,988

9,561,996

9,562,000

9,561,999

8,777,986

47,025,969

Approved Australian Laureate Fellows

Table 2: Australian Laureate Fellows approved for funding

Fellowship candidate

Administering Organisation

Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Queensland University of Technology

Professor Jill Bennett

The University of New South Wales

Professor Michelle Coote

The Australian National University

Professor Paul Griffiths

The University of Sydney

Professor Edward Holmes

The University of Sydney

Professor Colin MacLeod

The University of Western Australia

Professor Geoffrey McFadden

The University of Melbourne

Professor Ann McGrath

The Australian National University

Professor Gottfried Otting

The Australian National University

Professor Shizhang Qiao

The University of Adelaide

Professor Fedor Sukochev

The University of New South Wales

Professor Dacheng Tao

The University of Sydney

Professor Mathai Varghese

The University of Adelaide

Professor Svetha Venkatesh

Deakin University

Professor George Willis

The University of Newcastle

Professor Zhiguo Yuan

The University of Queensland

Professor Xiu Song Zhao

The University of Queensland

* Biographies for the 17 Australian Laureate Fellows are available on the ARC Website

Stage in Career and Gender

As shown in Table 3, at the time of application, nine of the Australian Laureate Fellowship Candidates in this round are within 15 years of the award of their PhD. Of the approved Australian Laureate Fellows, one is within 15 years of the award of their PhD.

Table 3: Years since the award of PhD (at time of submission)

Years since award of PhD

No. of considered proposals

% of considered proposals

No. of approved
proposals

% of approved
proposals

0–15 years

9

8.0

1

5.9

More than 15 years and up to 20 years

31

27.7

4

23.5

More than 20 years

71

63.4

12

70.6

No PhD

1

0.9

0

0.0

TOTAL

112

100.0

17

100.0

*As several of the FL17 applicants have multiple qualifications, for the purposes of this table we have used the date of their earliest qualification.

Twenty-six (23.2%) of all Australian Laureate Fellowship Candidates in this round are female. Of the approved Australian Laureate Fellows, four (23.5%) are female.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship

Of the 26 female Australian Laureate Fellowship Candidates, 23 applied for a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship or a Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship. The recipients of the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship (awarded to a candidate from the Humanities, Arts and Social Science disciplines) and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship (awarded to candidates from the Science and Technology disciplines)are shown in Table 4 below. Recipients are provided with additional funding to undertake an ambassadorial role to promote women in research and to mentor early career researchers, particularly women, to encourage them to enter and establish careers in research in Australia.

Table 4: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship and Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship

Fellowship Type

Fellowship Candidate

Administering Organisation

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship

Professor Ann McGrath

The Australian National University

Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship

Professor Michelle Coote

The Australian National University


Administering Organisation

The Administering Organisations of the 17 proposals approved for funding are:

Deakin University (1)

Queensland University of Technology (1)

The Australian National University (3)

The University of Adelaide (2)

The University of Melbourne (1)

The University of New South Wales (2)

The University of Newcastle (1)

The University of Queensland (2)

The University of Sydney (3)

The University of Western Australia (1)

Science and Research Priorities

Of the 112 Australian Laureate Fellowship proposals submitted, 69 (61.6%) of the proposals fall within one of the Science and Research Priorities while of the 17 approved proposals, 12 (70.6%) fall under an associated Practical Research Challenge, with total funding approved over five years of $33,999,078.

Table 5: Numbers and success rates for Australian Laureate Fellowships proposals for funding commencing in 2017, by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals funded

Success rate (%)

Allocated funds (over project life)

Advanced Manufacturing

20

4

20.0

$11,225,495

Cybersecurity

3

0

0.0

0

Energy

5

2

40.0

$5,527,700

Environmental Change

14

0

0.0

0

Food

3

0

0.0

0

Health

16

4

25.0

$11,112,833

Resources

4

1

25.0

$2,924,858

Soil and Water

0

0

0.0

0

Transport

4

1

25.0

$3,208,192

None Selected

43

5

11.6

$13,026,891

Total

112

17

15.2

$47,025,969

 

ABS fields of Research

Table 6: Field of Research division details of proposals for the Scheme Round

FoR Code

Classification Name

Submitted

Approved

Allocated Funding

01

Mathematical Sciences

6

3

$6,583,080

02

Physical Sciences

14

0

0

03

Chemical Sciences

4

3

$8,447,150

04

Earth Sciences

3

0

0

05

Environmental Sciences

3

0

0

06

Biological Sciences

16

3

$9,257,975

07

Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences

1

0

0

08

Information and Computing Sciences

10

2

$6,224,257

09

Engineering

15

2

$5,608,588

10

Technology

2

0

0

11

Medical and Health Sciences

1

0

0

12

Built Environment and Design

2

0

0

13

Education

1

0

0

14

Economics

2

0

0

15

Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

3

0

0

16

Studies in Human Society

7

0

0

17

Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

5

1

$2,295,215

18

Law and Legal Studies

4

0

0

19

Studies in Creative Arts and Writing

4

1

$3,194,989

20

Language, Communication and Culture

3

0

0

21

History and Archaeology

5

1

$2,845,869

22

Philosophy and Religious Studies

1

1

$2,568,846

Total

 

112

17

$47,025,969